|Untitled landscape by Carl Ahrens|
As some of you know, I completed The Oak Lovers last week. I expected to feel emotional as I typed “the end” and I did – for about ten minutes. Carl and Madonna’s story has haunted me since childhood and I’ve lived it for years. Now it’s over. I imagine I feel much as Madonna did after she lost her precious invalid. Free of a giant burden, but too loyal to celebrate and too numb to mourn. Exhausted.
Shortly before Carl died, he commented to Madonna that it felt “wonderful to be empty.” I have a new understanding of what he meant now. The only voice in my head is my own. It’s refreshing, though it may take me some time to adjust to being alone. When I do, I suspect another voice will invade, another story will demand to be told. Such is a writer’s life.
My manuscript is now in the hands of critique partners and beta readers. The “hurry up” has turned into “wait” for the first of many times on the path to publication. I've no shortage of things to do during my downtime. There's a website to update, agents to research and queries to write. The dreaded synopsis lurks in my dreams, as do the inevitable rejections.
I know better than to look at my novel now. What gleamed last week will appear tarnished, even rusty. I would attack it with literary Brasso and rub away the stains that give the story heart. I would polish it to death.
So, I wait. I clean my house. I dig into my to-be-read pile. I tinker on my website. I open Query Tracker and take a deep breath.
I listen to the silence.